Infineon like home-track racing | NevadaAppeal.com

Infineon like home-track racing

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

Mark Martin used experience and race craft to win his fifth Michigan 400 on Sunday, giving hope to all us old guys!

Say what you will about fuel mileage races not being exciting, I had to restart my heart about three times during the last lap of that race. Sunday’s Cup race at Infineon may be another fuel mileage derby, as NASCAR road course races often tend to be. I’m looking forward to it for a couple of reasons: First, because it will be the first-ever NASCAR road course race featuring double-file restarts, and second, because Sears Point was my home track for many years. For me, watching the NASCAR drivers race there is like watching the New York Yankees come to play on the local baseball diamond where you hold your city league games.

The double-file restarts should be very interesting, because the driver on the inside has the advantage going into the left-hand turn one … but if the guy on the outside can stay alongside, he will have the advantage at the right-hander at the top of the hill. I also heard an interesting comment from Elliot Sadler earlier this week, saying that the secret to racing at Infineon is to keep the car on the race track. If you just stay on the black part and out of the brown, you’ll almost certainly have a top-15 finish, according to Sadler.

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Road course races can be hard to handicap, given the number of road course “ringers” that typically show up on the entry list. Tomorrow’s race is no exception, with perennial ringers like Boris Said, Ron Fellows, and Brian Simo among the 47 drivers entered. Patrick Carpentier will take over for Michael Waltrip in the Napa-sponsored No. 55 Toyota, P.J. Jones will drive a second car for Robby Gordon, Max Papis will be in the Geico Toyota, and lesser-known road course experts like Tom Hubert, Brandon Ash, and Chris Cook are also entered. But let’s not forget the Cup regulars who have extensive road-racing experience in other series. Juan Pablo Montoya won at Infineon in 2007. A.J. Allmendinger and Scott Speed, Sam Hornish Jr., and John Andretti all have open-wheel road racing backgrounds, and Marcos Ambrose was a road-racing champion in Australia. And then there are the NASCAR veterans who have proven their road course prowess: Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and defending Infineon winner Kyle Busch. The depth of expertise in road racing is a far cry from the first Cup race at Sears Point 20 year ago in 1989. It should be a very interesting race.

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Tomorrow’s British Grand Prix has a certain similarity to a NASCAR race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Just as most NASCAR teams are based in Charlotte, the bulk of the Formula 1 teams are based in England, so the British GP is their home race.

Given the results of the season thus far, British driver Jensen Button is a good bet to score a home victory for Brawn/Mercedes. I hope the fans enjoy what may be the last-ever British Grand Prix.

Next season, Formula 1 as we know it may be history. In a series of events eerily reminiscent of the CART/IRL split that led to the decline of American open-wheel racing, FIA head Max Mosley and the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) are at an impasse in their negotiations over spending caps and other controversial rules for 2010 and beyond.

Mosley’s “my way or the highway” attitude concerning drastic rule changes for the series will, in all likelihood, drive a number of major manufacturers out of the series. Whether they initiate a rival open-wheel series or throw their F1 racing budgets into sports car racing remains to be seen.

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Local racer Dallas Colodny, driving the number 51 Highpoint Racing/Justice Brothers entry, continues to tear up the track in the NASCAR Auto Club Late Model series at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif.

Colodny qualified fifth and finished fourth in last Saturday’s race, the eighth of an 18-race season. He is currently leading the rookie of the year standings and is fifth in overall season points, just six points out of fourth place.